• Mucormycosis

    (Zygomycosis)

    Definition

    Mucormycosis is an infection caused by a fungus. It affects the sinuses, brain, lungs, and sometimes the skin. The infection occurs most often in people who have a compromised immune system. This is a serious infection. The prognosis is usually poor, even with treatment.

    Causes

    The fungus is often found in soil and decaying plants. It will not make most people sick. People are more likely to get the infection if they have a weakened immune system.

    Risk Factors

    The following factors increase your chance of developing mucormycosis:
      Having a weakened immune system caused by:
      • Diabetes
      • AIDS
      • Leukemia
      • Lymphoma
      • Recently receiving an organ transplant
      • Long-term steroid use
      • Treatment with deferoxamine (an antidote to iron poisoning)
      • Metabolic acidosis (too much acid in the blood)
    • Having a sinus infection
    • Having pneumonia
    • Having mucormycosis of the gastrointestinal tract, skin, and kidneys
    Sinus Infection
    Sinus Infection
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Symptoms

      Symptoms of infections of the sinuses and the brain (rhinocerebral mucormycosis):
      • Acute sinusitis
      • Fever
      • Swollen or protruding eyes
      • Dark nasal scabs
      • Redness of the skin over the sinuses
      Symptoms of infections of the lungs (pulmonary mucormycosis):
      • Fever
      • Cough; occasionally coughing up blood
      • Shortness of breath
      Symptoms of infections of the gastrointestinal tract (gastrointestinal mucormycosis):
      • Abdominal pain
      • Vomiting blood
      Symptoms of infections in the kidneys (renal mucormycosis):
      • Pain in the side between the upper abdomen and the back
      • Fever

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Tests may include the following:
    • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the affected area
    • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the affected area
    • Analysis of a tissue sample

    Treatment

    The prognosis is usually poor even with treatment. Options include:
    • Aggressive surgery—to remove all of the dead and/or infected tissue; early surgery may improve the prognosis
    • Antifungal therapy—IV (given through a needle in the arm) antifungal medicines may be used to kill the fungus throughout the body

    Prevention

    The fungus that causes this infection is found in many places. Avoiding contact with it is difficult. The best prevention is to control or prevent the conditions related to this infection.

    RESOURCES

    National Foundation for Infectious Diseases http://www.nfid.org/

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    The Canadian Lung Association http://www.lung.ca/

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index-eng.php/

    References

    Fungal infections. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.nfid.org/publications/fungal%5Farchive/fungal.html . Accessed April 15, 2007.

    Mucormycosis. University of Tennessee Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.utmedicalcenter.org/encyclopedia/?file=000649sym.htm . Accessed April 15, 2007.

    Radha S, Tameem T, Fernandez DK, Satyanarayana G. Gastric zygomycosis (mucormycosis). The Internet J Pathol . 2007;5(2).

    Revision Information

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